Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Art History to Architecture

I will be applying for the M. Arch 1 this next year and had a few questions for you wise ones. I am an Art History major with a minor in Architectural History as well. I began my college career as an architecture major but found out about the M. Arch 1 path and decided that it would be a better idea to major in a field aside from architecture for my undergrad. Anyways, I did take two sophomore level studios and got some work that was not so bad. The question is, should I include this work in my portfolio, or would it be a better idea just to leave it out because of my degree in art history? Also, if I include the models but have lost the technical drawings for the projects, should I redo them by hand, or do them in CAD?


First, congrats on your decision to pursue the Master of Architecture; further, I applaud your decision to first pursue your degree in Art History.

As to your question if you should include work from your sophomore studios, I suggest that you first contact each architecture program to which you are applying and ask them their opinion. As a portfolio is to demonstrate creative work be it architecture work or not, the work from your sophomore work is creative work; what else are you including in your portfolio?

To the extent possible, I would redraw the drawings if the originals were done by hand. Typically, architecture programs want work to be submitted as was done for the course, but again, ask the question of the programs.

I wish you the best in your applying.

Dr. Architecture

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Math Teacher to Architect.

I am considering making a career switch into architecture, and I’m looking for some advice. I am 25 years old, and I teach math to 7th graders in Arizona. I fell into the teaching profession by accident, and I have been attempting to figure out the next step in my career for some time. For the past year, I have tossed around the idea of working as either a contractor, engineer, urban planner, or architect, and I have recently begun researching going back to school for my M.Arch. I have always been interested in math, science, art, how things work, and building structures.

When I was younger I spent hours building with legos, Erector sets, car models, and 3-D puzzles, and while it’s been awhile since I’ve used anything similar, I still find that I can get lost in 2-D puzzles and problem solving. All this explains my interest in researching a career in architecture, and I’ve learned the amount of work and time that goes into studying to become an architect (at least a year to get all my pre-requisite classes in order, 3.5 years of study in a M.Arch program, 3+ years as an intern, and then studying for licensure). Therefore, I want to be sure that I am truly passionate about architecture before I pursue the discipline as a career.

I have been reading your blog for the past week, and I have come across some information about summer career discovery programs: LAIAD, Harvard, UCLA, and Berkeley. I’m curious if you know of any other summer programs that might help me explore my interest in architecture?


Congrats on your consideration of architecture as a new discipline. I appreciate you already researching the previous posts on the blog. The next best resource for summer programs is -- - An updated list for summer 2011 should be posted at the end of January. Most of these are targeted for high school students.

Aside from summer programs, visit either UArizona or Arizona State as both have architecture programs; meet with students, faculty, attend lectures, shadow a course or two. If possible, contact an architecture firm to do the same. If you do not have any art in your background, take a drawing course to develop work for your eventual portfolio that you will need when you apply to graduate programs.

Finally, to compliment my blog, consider obtaining Becoming an Architect, 2nd Edition. Best wishes and you find out about other summer programs, let me know.

Dr. Architecture

Sunday, December 12, 2010

MArch vs. Post-Professional Degree

I was curious if you have encountered many B.Arch grads pursuing an M.arch after licensure? I graduated with a B.Arch a few years ago, have about three years of work under my belt and have started sitting for sections of the ARE, while life is pretty uncomplicated and I have the time. However, I would like to keep the option of teaching open (my understanding is the M.Archs are necessary if one wants to teach later on) and do still have a strong desire to go back to school in the next couple of years. I myself don't know anyone that has taken this track but I just wonder if it does happen occasionally and would like to hear your thoughts on the idea.

First, congrats on your obtaining your BArch and a desire to pursue additional education.

As you BArch is a first professional degree, you do not need to pursue the MArch, instead seek a post-professional degree. At some institutions, it may be called a Master of Architecture; at other institutions, it may be called either a Master of Science in Architecture or by another name.

NCARB maintains a list of post-professional degrees available as you may gain IDP credit by pursuing a post-professional degree.

While most accredited architecture programs will probably prefer candidates with a post-professional degree, you may be able to teach with only your BArch if you apply to some programs or seek a teaching position within a community college.

I would advise that you not pursue a post-professional degree ONLY to have the credentials for pursuing teaching; instead, determine what aspect of architecture you wish to pursue and seek a program that fits your interest.


Dr. Architecture

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Master of Architecture - Options

My husband is an active duty marine and I am limited on my educational opportunities. I am trying to further my career while moving frequently to different bases. I am strongly considering enrolling in the BS program of Interior Design from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, Online. An online program seems to be the best route for me. If pursuing the M.Arch I path, are there any BA/BS programs that aren't recognized or that won't transfer when pursuing a Masters in Architecture? When pursuing a Masters from a grad school, is there any discrimination towards previous BA/BS obtained, or is it all fair game?

In one respect, you can obtain any undergraduate degree to pursue a Master of Architecture; however, the degree you receive will determine the length of time for the MArch degree.

For example, if you obtain a Bachelor of Science in Architectural Studies degree or equivalent, a Master of Architecture will typically take two years, but some graduate programs will require three years. Instead, if you obtain a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture, some programs may require you to take more than two years depending on the curriculum of your BA degree and the courses you took.

If your undergraduate degree is in an unrelated discipline, a Master of Architecture degree will take between 3-4 years depending on the institution. This would be the case of your the Interior Design degree you mention in your email. While you could certainly pursue the online program, there are no online 3-4 year Master of Architecture degrees. The Boston Architectural College (BAC) does have a distance MArch, but only for those that have an undergraduate BS in Architectural Studies degree.

Thus, graduate programs do not discriminate but rather accept you where you are given your undergraduate degree.

I certainly appreciate you limits; do the best you can and I wish you well.

Dr. Architecture

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Pre-Architecture Postitions

I am considering pursuing a M.Arch, but before making the time and financial commitment I want more first-hand insight into the profession of architecture, as well as gain some experience to help me through the M.Arch program. A job with an architecture firm would be ideal (I'm willing to do just about any kind of work, as long as I can observe the architects), but I've read those jobs are few and far between. I've read a good alternative is a job with a building construction company. If jobs with architecture firms are indeed difficult to find, what kind of jobs should I look for with construction companies? Do you have any other suggestions for pre-M.Arch jobs?
I can certainly understand your desire to work in the field prior to committing to your studies, but depending on your background, this may be difficult even within a construction company. Many construction companies require union membership.

Instead, I would suggest you attempt to gain informational interviews with architects from different firms - small, large, etc. In this way, you see a diversity of experiences to aid in your decision.

Use the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects in your region or simply the Yellow Pages to aid you in identifying architects with whom to interview and meet. Are you near a school of architecture? Do the same with a school?

Dr. Architecture

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Architecture Programs

I know a student (B, average math, no design background, only art is ceramics) who wishes to enter an architecture program. He could obtain an internship with an architectural firm in India first semester and enter college in the spring. He'd like to attend a college next fall where he can transfer into a pre-professional architecture program if he cannot be admitted to one directly. He lives in Virginia, and certainly cannot get into VPI or UVa. Any suggestions?

I would suggest you focus on programs that offer the four year pre-professional degree. These degrees would be most flexible if he pursues the internship or is not directly admitted. You could pursue any program in the country, but programs in the near region include the following:

Catholic University of America (Washington, DC)
Cincinnati, University of (Cincinnati, OH)
Clemson University (Clemson, SC)
Hampton University (Hampton, VA) - 5 1/2 Master of Architecture, but in Virginia
Kent State University (Kent, OH)
Kentucky, University of (Lexington, KY)
Maryland, University (College Park, MD)
Memphis, University of (Memphis, TN)
Miami University (Oxford, OH)
Morgan State University (Baltimore, MD)
North Carolina at Charlotte, University of (Charlotte, NC)
Ohio State University (Columbus, OH)

Another option would be community colleges that have articulate courses with an architecture program. For many 4+2 programs, the first year or two is mainly general education courses which would allow him to take these courses and transfer after his first year.

Dr. Architecture